Seven things you need to know about the Obama donor prosecuting Dinesh D’Souza

Patrick Howley Political Reporter
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Conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza’s indictment for alleged campaign finance violations in the 2012 U.S. Senate race in New York is coming under scrutiny by a team of four Republican senators questioning whether the prosecution is politically motivated.

D’souza was indicted in late January for election fraud for allegedly using straw donors to contribute $20,000 to the losing New York U.S. Senate campaign of his friend, Wendy Long. Facing a maximum of two years in prison, D’Souza pled not guilty and made $500,000 bail. “I’m going to proceed with my work and my ideas and the film will be unimpeded by whats going on,” D’Souza told The Daily Caller before embarking on a publicity tour for his upcoming documentary, “America,” which will be released in June.

Republican Sens. Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Chuck Grassley and Jeff Sessions recently signed a letter to FBI director James Comey asking for clarification on the “routine review by the FBI” of the 2012 New York Senate race that yielded the indictment against D’Souza. The letter quoted Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz’s statement that D’Souza appears to be the victim of “selective prosecution.”

Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York which includes Manhattan, announced the indictment against D’Souza and is handling the filmmaker’s prosecution. Bharara’s office declined to tell TheDC whether anyone else has been charged or is expected to be charged as a result of the “routine review.”

Bharara is an Obama appointee and Obama inaugural donor, records reveal. The man who has positioned himself as an anti-Wall Street corruption crusader cut his teeth as a protege of Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer and is now a top prospect for an Attorney General gig in a Hillary Clinton administration. Here are seven facts you need to know about Bharara:

1. Donated to Obama’s inauguration four months before earning an Obama appointment to his current job as U.S. Attorney

Bharara, then based in Bethesda, Maryland, contributed $324 to Obama’s 2009 inauguration, according to a database maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics. Obama nominated Bharara to be U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York on May 15, 2009. Obama called Bharara and his fellow May 15 nominees “fair, tenacious and respected attorneys throughout their careers” who “will serve their country with distinction as U.S. Attorney.”

2. Was rumored to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General in the Obama administration

Bharara was the subject of growing February 2012 speculation in Washington, D.C. that he would replace Holder as Attorney General if Obama won re-election. A Bharara spokesperson declined to deny the speculation but said that Bharara is uninterested in leaving his U.S. Attorney job “so long as the President will have him.”

3. Rumored to be a top prospect for an Attorney General job in a Hillary Clinton administration in 2017

“I think it is a mistake to see him as a guy who wants to run for office. But he could be a well-received choice for Hillary [Clinton] as her [U.S. attorney general] if he wins these cases on public corruption and keeps winning the insider trading cases,” one of New York City’s top political consultants told Crain’s Insider in April.

4. Protege of Chuck Schumer

“The baldly political and brass-knuckled Mr. Schumer set Mr. Bharara on the very course that has led him to where he is now as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of that state and one of the most visible prosecutors in the country,” wrote columnist Charles Hurt.

Bharara served as Schumer’s top aide at the Senate Judiciary Committee from 2005 to 2009, and Schumer recommended Bharara for a U.S. Attorney post.

“The Southern District of New York will soon be tasked with one of the most important agendas of any office in the country, and no person is better qualified to take it on than Preet Bharara. He has served the Senate for nearly five years with the utmost intelligence, integrity and effectiveness. I know he will do the same as U.S. attorney,” Schumer said in an August 2009 statement upon Bharara’s confirmation as U.S. Attorney.

5. Went after the Bush administration

While working for Schumer on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Bharara helped to lead the ferocious investigation into the Bush administration’s 2006 dismissals of U.S. Attorneys, which led to the 2007 resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

6. Came under diplomatic scanner for “targeting” Indians for prosecution

Bharara came under the diplomatic scanner for allegedly “targeting” Indians for prosecution, according to 2013 mail circulated between Indian government officials. Bharara enraged many Indians for prosecuting Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade for allegedly giving false information to help her assistant receive a visa, and previously prosecuted Indian-born Wall Street icon Rajat Gupta for financial fraud.

7. Went after Russian diplomats after Russia granted asylum to Edward Snowden

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that Bharara’s prosecution of 49 Russian diplomats for alleged health care fraud four months after Russia granted asylum to National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden “no more than a cheap spin effort, no more than a desire to fulfill the order of Russophobic forces in the United States… We have many complaints about U.S. diplomats in Moscow, but we aren’t taking them into the public domain.” The Obama administration’s State Department defended Bharara’s effort.

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